Britomart is a place where past and future collide, where renovated dockside warehouses jostle up to sleek new architecture, where gritty brick laneways full of lively bars give way to plant-filled streets and a sunny square lined with world-leading restaurants and chic boutiques. Britomart – home to the headquarters of Westpac, EY, innovative co-working space Generator and a host of other market-leading businesses, and located right above the city’s busiest public transport hub – is the crossroads where Auckland sees the best of itself: clever, creative, rich in history and full of promise.
Britomart is a site rich in history. The mana whenua of the area are the Ngāti Whātua people; it was their chief, Apihai Te Kawau, who gifted 3000 acres of the area to Governor Hobson for the construction of a new capital city after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
After the gift of land from Ngāti Whātua, Te Rerenga Ora Iti, the headland that once dominated the area, was renamed Point Britomart by colonial settlers and became a base for colonial troops. Its name was taken from a Royal Navy gunship, HMS Britomart, which was the first English vessel to carry out a detailed survey of the Waitematā Harbour in 1841.
Most of Britomart as we know it today was under water until the 1870s, when Port Britomart was levelled and the land around it reclaimed from the sea to create improved facilities for a rapidly growing port and city around it.
From the 1880s, the area of reclaimed land became one of Auckland's principal business districts, with many of the offices and warehouses built during this period now refurbished and serving new generations of occupants today.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Britomart fell on hard times. A new bus depot occupied the centre of the precinct, and many of the buildings were shuttered and scheduled for demolition. Eventually the council made plans to bring rail tracks into the heart of the city, and to save the heritage buildings around the new station.
After an international design competition and a lengthy competitive bid process, Cooper and Company took over full responsibility for the regeneration and long-term management of Britomart with a long-term lease of the precinct. Since then, heritage buildings have been gradually refurbished and combined with new architecture, plant-filled streets and a sunny public square.
Britomart’s nine blocks are now occupied by a vibrant mix of offices, boutiques, bars, cafes and eateries centred around Te Ara Tahuhu, a verdant pedestrian-only street, and Takutai Square, the square at the heart of the Britomart community.
Art at Britomart
Britomart is home to some bold and evocative public artworks, as well as an ever-changing array of temporary exhibitions that enrich the neighbourhood's lively sense of place.
Maunga by Shane Cotton (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Hine, Te Uri Taniwha), 2020.
Maunga is a permanent artwork that covers the western wall of Excelsior House. The basis of the artwork is a series of 25 works on paper created by Shane Cotton in response to Britomart’s commission. He and artist Ross Liew worked together to translate those works into the five-storey-high artwork that now occupies the corner of Customs Street East and Commerce Street.
Aroha ki te Ora by Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuri ki Ngāi Tahu, Samoan), 2020
The perforated and folded aluminium panels of Lonnie Hutchinson’s work refer to the Ngāi Tahu creation story, which is unusual in that it features three protagonists: Papatūānuku, Takaroa and Rakinui. The work, commissioned as part of Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, is made up of two sets of three panels, with one panel representing each of these three figures
SCOUT: Wawata Hōhonu by Tim Gruchy and Lyonel Grant (Ngāti Pikia, Te Arawa), 2012/2020
SCOUT is a digital artwork in Takutai Square by Tim Gruchy; its displays are governed by software that generates imagery in response to external data including temperature and people movements. For Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, Tim collaborated with artist Lyonel Grant to include imagery of Lyonel’s carvings in SCOUT’s deep-dreaming process.
Pou Tū Te Rangi by Chris Bailey (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Pāoa, Te Aupōuri, Irish), 2011
These seven distinct pou watch over the courtyard of The Pavilions and are visible from Tuawhiti Lane outside The Hotel Britomart. The work’s title translates as ‘standing posts reaching for the heavens’, and emphasises the connections between humanity, earth and sky.
Te Rou Kai by Chaz Doherty (Ngāi Tuhoe), Renata Blair (Ngāti Whātua) and Bernard Makoare (Ngāti Whātua, Te Uri o Hau, Te Waiariki, Te Kaitūtae), 2003
Te Rou Kai is located in Takutai Square, which is built on reclaimed land, a once-rich source of shellfish like pipi for local Māori. This artwork is made up of 16 sculptural stones, steel pipi shells, and pop jets representing the squirting action of the shellfish as they filter water for oxygen before expelling it.
Long Burning Flame, Look to Whiria by Shane Cotton (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Hine, Te Uri Taniwha), 2021
This painting in the lobby of The Hotel Britomart retells an important Ngāpuhi narrative: that of the explorer Kupe who, struggling to find the entrance to the Hokianga Harbour, was guided into it by the light falling upon Te Ramaroa, the maunga whose name translates as ‘the long burning flame’. Contained within the painting is the idea that the light on Te Ramaroa can be a metaphorical beacon to guide us all.
Symphony, 2018 by Shannon Novak
The semi-permanent artwork called ‘Symphony’is by artist Shannon Novak, and covers the airbridges that connect the two Westpac buildings in Britomart. The work was first installed for Pride 2018, and makes for a dazzling display of colour and shape when viewed from Galway Street. Those inside the airbridges are bathed in a kaleidoscope of pastel shades as they pass from building to building.
Architecture at Britomart
From historic warehouses to New Zealand's first 5 Green Star hotel, Britomart boasts some of the city's best architecture. Take a closer look here.
The Chief Post Office / Britomart Transport Centre, 12 Queen Street.
The Chief Post Office was designed in the Imperial Baroque style by John Paton with government architect John Campbell, and opened by Prime Minister William Massey on 20 November 1912.
Barrington Building and Old Sofrana House, 10–12 Customs Street East and 14-18 Customs Street East
Currently closed for refurbishment, the Barrington and Sofrana Buildings were designed as warehouses to serve Auckland’s increasingly busy port.
The Hotel Britomart 29 Galway Street
Britomart’s newest building was designed by Cheshire Architects in a project that also included the refurbishment of the adjacent heritage buildings and the creation of a new laneway.
Levy Building, 20 Customs Street East
The Levy Building was designed by Edward Bartley and opened in 1888.
Excelsior House and Stanbeth House, 22-28 Customs Street East
Excelsior House was built circa 1885 (its architect is unknown) for Brown, Barrett & Co: tea, coffee and spice merchants who eventually moved to the Masonic Building next door.
Charter House, 54-58 Customs Street East
Now part of Westpac’s headquarters, Charter House started out as a single-storey building in 1905, before being scaled up to a four- and five-storey structure in 1920.
Westpac and EY Building, Takutai Square
The Westpac and EY Building was designed by Sydney architects Johnston Pilton Walker in association with Britomart-based Peddle Thorp. The building opened in 2011 and is bisected by the Atrium on Takutai, which continues the axis established from Britomart Station along Te Ara Tahuhu.
Britomart Tenant Directory
Britomart is serious about sustainability. The precinct is located above the city’s busiest train station, and Britomart is the first property management company in New Zealand to commit to the Green Star Performance tool, a rigorous, innovative system for measuring and managing buildings and continuously improving their performance. Social sustainability is also one of our key goals, supported by an arts, culture and urban design programme with a strong focus on inclusion, diversity and making the widest possible range of people feel welcome in and stimulated by our downtown waterfront neighbourhood. You can read more stories on our sustainability efforts at britomart.org/sustainability.
Britomart is founded on a collaboration between the Britomart Group and Auckland Council. Cooper and Company is the asset and development manager for the Britomart Group, which holds a contract for the long-term ownership and development of the Britomart Precinct.
Cooper and Company is a private investment company with offices in Auckland, California and Texas. It was founded in 1989 by Peter Cooper, a New Zealander who divides his time between New Zealand and the US.
Cooper and Company invests in, manages and develops assets on a long-term basis in two main areas: real estate in both New Zealand and the United States, and private equity, with a focus on financial services and energy solutions.
In 2002 the Britomart development contract was put up for tender by Auckland City Council. One of the bidders was the Bluewater Consortium, led by Cooper and Company, then known as Bluewater Management Company. After a lengthy and highly competitive international bid process, the Britomart contract was awarded to the Bluewater Consortium in 2004. In 2006 Bluewater Management Company bought out its partners in the Consortium and in April 2008 changed its name to Cooper and Company.
Day to day property, facilities and precinct management of Britomart and the Britomart Car Park is provided by Britomart Group Management Company, with Cooper and Company having responsibility for strategic asset management, including property development.
Besides Britomart, Cooper and Company’s real estate activities include Bay of Islands heritage and conservation property The Landing (and luxury private accommodation at The Landing Residences) and master-planned Texas town centre Southlake Town Square.
Come and join us at Britomart, the best place in Auckland to do business.
Britomart’s nine blocks make up a dynamic and diverse business community populated by some of the country’s most innovative enterprises, where meetings are as likely to take place in one of the neighbourhood’s many cafes as they are in a boardroom. Tenancies range from boutique character spaces in heritage buildings and bustling retail boutiques to contemporary premises in Green Star-rated offices.
For office and retail leasing enquiries, please contact Jeremy Priddy at firstname.lastname@example.org
For carpark leasing enquiries, please contact our parking team on (09) 300 6190 or email us at email@example.com